How to Handle the New Mom Identity Crisis
The new mom identity crisis crept up on me. You prepare for your child during pregnancy, but nothing truly prepares you for how your life will change until your baby is born. Or how YOU will change.
The next stage of growth comes with your baby.
No one really talked to me about, which left me wondering if other new moms don't struggle the same way or we don't know how to cope?
It took practice and patience to gain my footing as a mom and I was often floundering in my new life.
After my son was born in late 2020, I focused on learning to care for him and getting to know this sweet, beautiful baby. I cared less about everything else, like work, going out, cooking, what I wore and if I had makeup on.
There was so much newness - it was all consuming and uncomfortable at times.
I kept reminding myself that we were adjusting and going through a growing phase, which helped, but in reality, you often forget in the moment.
We rarely learn anything new or evolve into a better version of ourselves without the messy middle.
What I didn't realize was that with the birth of my son, I was also reborn.
I had to get to know this other side of me that wasn't present until Dylan arrived. It made me challenge and reprioritize my belief system, how I spent my time, and who I wanted to be moving forward.
The new mom identity crisis didn't fully hit me until I tried going back to work.
I tried working again when Dylan was 8 weeks old and quickly realized it was too soon. I pushed back my start date until he was 4 months and we had more space to gain solid ground.
The transition to motherhood still left me with questions like:
how do I still take care of me, while caring for my baby?
how do I make time to exercise, meal plan, food prep, and have time alone with a baby? And when my energy isn't 100%?
how can I set up my work day to accomplish my goals, while I take care of him?
how do I connect with the world around me when so much of me has changed?
how do I navigate this new, wonderful chapter in my life when there is a a clear line between who I was before Dylan and who I am now?
I worked through three steps to navigate the new mom crisis, that helped find answers to my burning questions:
1.Create new routines with wiggle room to change
If you're like me and crave structure, having a baby really challenges your mindset! They go through so many different phases and their sleep and nap schedules change weekly. I thrive on consistency and was thrown for a loop when everything would change in a moment.
I knew the rest of my day would take on a life of its own, and when Dylan started sleeping through the night at 12 weeks, I recreated my morning routine. I set my alarm to 5am or 5:30 so I could wake up to a quiet household and have my alone time. I'd have a good 2-2.5 hours to indulge in what I wanted to do.
I still have this practice, one year later.
This is my time to workout, make breakfast, take care of the pets, sip my matcha and watch the sunrise. I've always been a morning person so it wasn't a hard transition, but if you aren't, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night and waking up 15 minutes earlier. You can keep adjusting this until you wake up at your desired time.
Secondly, I created routines Dylan could join me on.
I really love walking outside every day and I'd carve this into our routine. I did have to bend on walking for an hour at a time, unless he was taking a nap. To make it work, I'd take him for a 20 minute walk before his morning nap, another 30 minute walk before his second nap, and often a short family walk before dinner.
This helped give me my space where I can freely walk in nature, call a friend, or listen to music. We also don't do screen time with him, so this is space for him to take some quiet time as well. We're both introverts :)
If I didn't get a workout in the morning, I'll do yoga or some stretching while he plays. And I've been attending more baby classes so he can meet new friends and I can socialize with other moms. He's also helping me create new content!
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2. Challenge yourself to new personal growth opportunities
To get to know the new me and really figure out who I was in this next chapter, I found myself gravitating to more spiritual practices.
I did an energy clearing with a spiritual teacher who focuses on babies too, had my astrology chart read, started practicing feng shui, and took more time away from social media. Mentally I really needed the space in order to hear my own voice.
Just because we have children, does not mean we don't keep challenging ourselves in our own growth. There are definitely periods of exhaustion, but getting involved or trying something that peaks your interest helps you discover new facets about yourself.
Dylan's birth felt very spiritual (I share my positive, yet high risk birth story here), and tapping into my faith helped navigate the identity crisis.
Make sure you're also balancing your hormones as you go. Your body goes through a lot during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum stage. I went back through the Moody Meltdowns to Balanced Bombshell Program to reset, improve my mood and energy, and lower stress on my gut and adrenal glands.
3. Step back from the areas in your life that cause you stress & ask for help
Becoming a mom is an all consuming experience.
It's ok to step back from the areas in your life that cause stress until you're ready to come back.
Think of any women you know who recently had a baby and you don't hear from them for awhile. It's ok and a natural part of the process. We all need this space.
And we have a maternity leave for a reason. If you can take more than 12 weeks, do it! It is so good for bonding with your baby, your mental health, physical recovery, and emotions.
I took six months off from taking on any 1:1 clients and hosting group programs when Dylan was born. I took more quiet time to automate other aspects of my business so I could still earn an income, while being there for Dylan. I also took more breaks from social media because the intensity of so many voices felt too loud for me as I was transitioning.
Thankfully, my husband and I work from home, and before we've found childcare, we are in this journey together. We tag teamed meetings, nap times, play time, and rearranged our schedules to accommodate our family's needs, with our jobs.
Asking for help became even more crucial as a mom, and now that we've settled into our new home in Colorado, we're working through what additional support we can welcome into our lives.
It's never going to be a perfect system, but I am personally more grounded and balanced. Dylan has taught me the importance of going with the flow more and having flexible structure.
These practices are not something we do once, we do it over and over again as we stretch and grow.
Your Main Obstacle: Learning to Let Go
The biggest obstacle you will face is the difficulty in letting go of who you were and the habits you had.
You will have to let go of old beliefs, friendships, thought processes, and routines that no longer serve you.
This is the most uncomfortable part and I challenge you to create more quiet time in your day. It's ok to rethink how you do things and let go of what worked before children.
Keep asking yourself, what will work now?
Mentally I found myself trying to keep up with the same routines I had before Dylan and would get easily frustrated if I didn't have enough sleep, have enough time to work, exercise, cook, shower, you name it.
My life had clearly changed.
Peel back the layers of what you use to do and tell yourself you are reinventing yourself and creating new systems.
I started by getting my hair cut. Buying new outfits I loved. Journaling. Creating new content that felt good for this time of my life. Taking a solo date night for myself.
These small baby steps helped open the door to shift my daily routines and mentally get to a place where I was ok with all the change.
Becoming a mother is a profound experience and the more we realize we change as women, the easier the process becomes.
Dylan needed this change within me and I needed it to become the happy, balanced mom I always dreamed of. I didn't realize it would take so much work, but I'm really proud I showed up for the process and let go of what I thought "had to be a certain way".
Leaning into the new mom identity crisis will bring you more inner piece, firm boundaries on how you spend your time, and a deeper connection to your family.
Have you or someone you know experienced the new mom identity crisis?